By the time you’re reading this all the hoopla is over and the Sea Hawks are home with a Super Bowl ring and an extra $90,000 per player. As a Peyton Manning fan, I rooted for the Broncos; but it goes to show that even one of the greatest quarterbacks of this decade can’t carry the whole game without teamwork.
For the Ventura County Health Care Agency (VCHCA) nurses, who have been bargaining for a contract since December 2012, we know that to be champions of healthcare means more than a gold ring and more money. Winning an awesome contract means safe patient ratios, protecting nurses from crippling back injuries and workplace violence, a career ladder that enhances job satisfaction and improves our ability to recruit seasoned nurses and a healthy public sector hospital system that keeps prices down. Without public sector healthcare, the private sector can charge whatever they want because they will be the only providers in town.
We know we have what it takes to win. We’ve survived Cerner and the onset of Trauma Designation which has more than doubled our work. Like the Broncos we are favored to win, but unless we depend on stellar teamwork, as in the case of the Sea Hawks, we might fall short of championing the greatest success of our careers: self-sustaining language that protects us from being stretched too thin.
Without a contract that takes into account for safety and staffing, the VCHCA will continue to hire new grad per diem nurses at bargain basement prices. These new nurses, while licensed, lack the experience to handle crisis with the competency of skilled nurses. It’s a vicious cycle, we train the new who move on to better paying hospitals and burn-out makes a training program for new-hires a burden instead of an honor. As in football, you can study playbooks until you’re blue in the face, but there’s nothing like scoring that first patient save from disaster.
Football is dangerous and so is being a nurse. Like linemen, we taking crushing loads and work with unpredictable patients who lash out. In the past four years, there have been over twenty nurses out for various bodily injuries and emotional stress. If you don’t believe me, check with Human Resources they’ll confirm the scores who were benched because of the harm done from heavy emotional and physical lifting.
Our state mandates hospitals to provide lift help in terms of policy and equipment, yet VCHCA nurses continue to get injured due to lack of training and gear. We need language in our contract that supports our rights to be safe.
When I think of Super Bowl I think of collaboration (you know those tight ends in the huddle, that’s what I’m talking about). Safe patient care starts with sheer numbers. Proper staffing means having a team to work with. I don’t know any caregivers that can split themselves in two. No amount of money will make up for a poor patient outcome that haunts you the rest of your life. Whenever the hospital is short staffed, nurses need relief efforts from their managers and combat compensation.
Yes we need a career ladder, the overhaul of VCHCA’s antiquated nursing classification system is long overdue. Yet, as a team, I know we’d be selling ourselves short if we don’t win a contract that includes staffing ratios, a nursing protection package and lift language as well.
Join the Team of VCHCA Nurses
EVERY Third Tuesday of Each Month:
7:30-8:30 Santa Paula Hospital Cafeteria
9:00-10:30 at VCMC Cafeteria
12-1:00 at 2240 Gonzales Rd #200 Public Health
EVERY First Monday of the Month
9:00 a.m. at Mimi’s Cafe on Main
Come & Decide Your Future